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Financial Words of the Week: Back to School – Coverdell ESA/529 Plan

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Back to School Series

Parents—do you know all of your options when it comes to saving early for your children’s education? Here, we’ll discuss two of our recommended options for saving funds for education well in advance of your first child going off to college: the Coverdell Education Savings Account and the 529 Plan.

The Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) allows for a family member to deposit funds into an account that grows tax-free until funds are distributed. It is a great vehicle to start growing funds for both K-12 and college tuition. You can even direct how you want to invest the funds yourself to offer a high level of control over rates of return. There are a few restrictions to this plan such as income limitations and an annual contribution cap of $2,000. After the beneficiary turns 18, you can’t contribute unless special exceptions are granted.

As with the Coverdell ESA, the 529 Plan is a savings account that will allow your contributions to grow tax-free. Unlike the Coverdell ESA, however, the 529 requires that your distributions be used for college expenses only. With the 529 Plan, you are not restricted to an income or age limit, and there is a much higher annual contribution limit: $14,000 per year or nothing that exceeds the education expenses, whichever is lower. In some situations, your state might even offer additional tax benefits for using their 529 Plan. While not offering the same kind of control over investments as the Coverdell ESA, the 529 Plan still offers great value and benefit to parents and students only concerned with college expenses.

Which is right for you?

Work with your local bank partner or financial advisor to review the pros and cons of each option to create an individualized savings plan. You can also check out for more information.

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